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What the Rudy Gobert Trade Means for Jazz's Short & Long-Term Playoff Viability

The dust is beginning to settle on the tectonic Rudy Gobert trade.

So much for the Utah Jazz running it back.

Emotions are still running high on social media after fan-favorite Rudy Gobert was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. It was a hard day for Jazz Nation, but as the dust settles, it begs the question: What does the compensation for Gobert mean for the Jazz moving forward?

In return for Gobert, the Jazz received the following: 

  • Four first-round picks (2023, 2025, 2027, 2029)
  • Pick Swap 2026
  • Malik Beasley
  • Patrick Beverley
  • Walker Kessler
  • Jared Vanderbilt

Don't Get Too Invested in Beasley & Beverley

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) and guard Patrick Beverley (22) and center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) celebrate the three point success of guard Malik Beasley (5) against Oklahoma City Thunder at Target Center.

Beasley and Beverley are both NBA veterans and have contracts that expire in 2023, which is going to give the Jazz an extra $28 million to use in free agency next year. There's a high chance that some (or all) of these players could be moved at the trade deadline in exchange for expiring contracts and draft capital from a team that's trending for the playoffs. 

I don’t expect either Beasley or Beverley to be suiting up for the Jazz after this year.

A 7-Foot-1 Ceiling

Kessler was the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of this year's draft. He's a 7-foot-1 center out of Clemson who is known for his defense and rim protection, but his offensive game will need to be developed. The high ceiling is there and Kessler will get a chance to showcase his potential now that Gobert is in Minnesota.

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Vanderbilt is a 6-foot-9 power forward whose talent is somewhat raw and unrefined, but he was a nice rotational piece for the Timberwolves in 2022. He's a great rebounder whose points come around the basket, but he lacks the perimeter game needed to stretch the floor in the modern NBA. Vanderbilt’s contract runs through 2023-24 with $9M left on his deal.

A Stockpile of First-Round Ammo

Most of the value of the compensation comes by way of the four first-round picks the Jazz received. Three of these picks are unprotected and the 2029 pick is a top-5 protected pick. Also, a pick swap in 2026 in favor of Utah was included in the package.

The Jazz now have a lot more flexibility to facilitate trades. Executive Danny Ainge can either 1.) parlay these picks in a trade that can bring a star player to Utah, or 2.)  use the picks to rebuild the Jazz brick by brick. Most likely he’ll do a combination of the two.

The Takeaway

In just 48 hours, Ainge has turned one of the most salary cap-strapped teams in the NBA into a franchise rich in draft capital with the type of salary-cap flexibility that the Jazz desperately needed.

The next objective should be to get out from under Mike Conley's contract which would give the Jazz another $23M to work with in 2023. When you next consider that the contracts of Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gay also expire in 2023, the Jazz could have over $90M to spend in free agency, and a trio of first-round picks heading into the 2023-24 season.

Bogdanovic has a high probability of being traded at some point with an expiring contract and draft capital coming back. I expect the Jazz will get at the least a first-round pick, if not more, as compensation.

Now, obtaining all of these draft picks and the salary-cap flexibility comes at a cost. The Jazz most likely won’t make the playoffs in 2022-23, but that’s okay.

It stings to lose Rudy, but sometimes a team has to take a step backward if it wants to move forward. 

Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnesNBA.